With the loss by Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros today, the WTA will have a brand new Grand Slam champion at the end of the tournament.
With Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarekna all missing from the event for various reasons (pregnancy, ranking, maternity) the only surviving Grand Slam champions still in the draw were Muguruza and Venus Williams (who also lost today)
The reigning French Open champion and fourth seed faced the 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic in the fourth round.
A really sluggish start for the Spaniard meant the match would be a tough one for the fourth seed. The French player of course had the Parisienne crowd on her side. They long to have a home grown winner.
It was 1983 when the last Frenchman won the title (Yannick Noah), and 2000 since the last female won the title (Mary Pierce). By comparison to the Brits and Wimbledon, this is short history.
The French crowd always get behind their man or woman – just as the Brits do at Wimbledon; however the French are less reserved than the Brits. This often means that the French are more noisy, less respectful, and sometimes just plain rude.
The Spaniard experienced this firsthand today during her match with Mladenovic. It was a tough match for Muguruza all told, although she managed to grab the second set to force a decider, and the French crowd did not help her.
Understandably, the French crowd were behind their player. This always happens at Roland Garros, and should be expected by the players. Some thrive on this kind of atmosphere when playing a French player, Andy Murray for example.
It is well known that Murray can and often needs the crowd on his side when he feels in a spot, however, in Paris this turns itself on it’s head. If the Brit is playing a French player, then the crowd are fully behind their man.
This actually works to the Brit’s advantage, as he uses the crowd still but it boosts him to shut them up by taking control of the match.
For the Spaniard, it was trickier – not something she will have been used to. Although she was the defending champion, her match on Suzanne Lenglen (and not Chartrier) against a French player produced an atmosphere the fourth seed had not experienced before.
The Spaniard was asked in the emotional press conference (that the fourth seed left in tears before returning) if she had heard her opponent yell “Forza” when the defending champ made an unforced error, she replied “No, I think she speaks like 25 languages, I heard“.
It has been rumoured that someone in the crowd actually suggested the fourth seed should “go back to Venezuela,” although this has not yet been confirmed. Racist behaviour should not be tolerated, and if found to be true the person should be banned from returning.
Otherwise it was a very bad day at the office for the Spaniard who lost the match in three sets, finding her campaign to retain the title ended, and her ranking slipping as she dropped the points from last year.
The draw is now wide open for a first time Slam champion, there is plenty of scope for those remaining, and one will win their maiden Slam. Who that will be though is still a way from being determined.
The second week brings forth some prospective great matches, to crown a new WTA Grand Slam champion in the Open Era. Will it be a French win for Mladenovic? Or will they have to wait a bit longer.
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